Farewell from the Editor
It was more than three years ago that I was given my first sports beat, covering the field hockey team, by then-Sports Editor Jon Hampton '05. Growing up in New York City I had limited knowledge of (and interest in) ice hockey, let alone its grass-based sister-sport. Yet after making the trek from the Choates to Scully-Fahey Field one September afternoon in 2004, pen and notebook in hand, my career with The Dartmouth's sports section began.
The first lesson one learns as a sports writer at Dartmouth is that high school-like atmospheres at sporting events that aren't men's hockey games are the norm. School spirit at Dartmouth is undoubtedly in decline. While this paper and, most specifically, the sports section, can surely play its part in fostering greater campus unity and excitement for our sports teams, the onus also falls on student fans, Dartmouth's coaches and the athletes themselves.
There is little doubt that our athletes deserve a great deal more support than they currently receive from Dartmouth's student body. Whether you play field hockey, softball or football, Division I athletics are the most grueling and time-consuming addition to a college career imaginable -- a lesson I learned firsthand.
After spending the first month of my freshman year fruitlessly attempting to walk on to the baseball team, I was instilled with a truly genuine appreciation for the enormous commitment involved in Division I sports. Workouts at 6 a.m. two terms before baseball was even in season quickly led to the realization that I was not prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to dedicate myself entirely to a sport for four years.
Dartmouth is a small college. We will never be able to fill a 100,000-seat football stadium a la Michigan, but we, as non-athlete students, can still do better for our athlete brethren. Having consistent crowds of 300 students at soccer games would go much further than we could imagine for encouraging school pride.
Our College has far fewer non-athletes, in terms of absolute numbers, than most other Division I schools. This certainly works to inhibit attendance numbers comparatively speaking. Nevertheless, what I am referring to is less tangible than numbers. I'm talking about finding the flame that continues to burn in the bellies of alumni who return each Homecoming in the green knit sweaters or even in the bowels of those who care so much (or perhaps too much) about their alma mater they are willing to sue it over trustee election rules. While the actions of the latter certainly serve as an extreme example, I fear that Dartmouth's 21st-century alumni base will not have that fire swirling around the memories of their undergraduate experience.
Perhaps a nostalgic forgetfulness will come upon us when we visit our College decades from now, and we will hoot and holler at the Homecoming football game "just like old times." But why not enjoy it more in the here and now? If the corporate recruiting process has taught me one thing about college life, it's that it will be over long before we are ready for it to be.
While Dartmouth will never be a national presence in the most mainstream sports -- men's basketball and football -- this does not mean these teams of ours will never be able to unite a campus behind them.
It shouldn't take a bowl invitation to garner excitement for football. In fact, revitalization -- in an Ivy League context -- of Dartmouth's most tradition-laden sport may be just what the doctor ordered. Through stronger recruiting efforts and a defensive refurbishment, Buddy Teevens may still one day match the success he found as a player long ago on the sidelines as Dartmouth's coach today.
We will never be a national basketball powerhouse. Urban centers and more established, larger programs will continue to eat up talent, leaving Dartmouth with very intelligent players, but not the most elite athletes. Yet as with football, success in an Ivy context could be just enough to cut deeply into the apathy that plagues most of the student body when it comes to support for athletics. If Terry Dunn can build a team for next year behind the likes of Alex Barnett '09 and DeVon Mosley '09, a run to the NCAA tournament may not be so improbable.
Covering Dartmouth athletes for the past three years has been a distinct privilege. The ability to build personal relationships with the subjects of my writing will always be the most fulfilling aspect of my time with The D, and it is what gives Dartmouth athletics its uniquely intimate quality. There is a purity that surrounds sports at Dartmouth which separates us from larger athletic powerhouses and should be embraced by students.
Love of school and love of sports is what motivates my writing staff, and will continue to do so well beyond my exit. This love of Dartmouth will forever be the unshakeable bias that will define this newspaper and, I hope, its sports section. It will always be my expectation that such passion can be injected into our sports coverage and projected to both the student body and alumni.